Back soon. Meanwhile – a few thoughts on the trainwreck that is council homelessness “help”…

Transcribing a lot of interviews atm which takes me a long time. Should be back with posting soon.

A couple of things to think on:

  • I have an interview that I’m working on with a housing officer. This officer said that the council they worked for was placing more and more people in Travelodges for emergency accommodation. It isn’t news that homeless families are placed in Travelodges, but it did make me wonder how much hotel chains collect these days in housing benefit/Universal Credit and if hotel chains built or set up new hotels to cash in.
  • this officer said that there was concern in some council officers about councillors responding in a knee-jerk way to bad publicity about housing. If a homeless family received publicity about their housing problems, some councillors would tell staff to prioritise that case and to find the family decent local housing. If a homeless family didn’t have publicity and/or a lawyer, they wouldn’t get any such treatment and would languish for years in emergency or temporary accommodation – if they were lucky to get even that far. Backlogs of such cases piled up on officers’ desks. Variations on this theme have long been the case, of course. It was just that officers were getting mightily pissed off about it. In times of extreme housing crisis, systems that are supposed to be in place go to pieces.
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26 thoughts on “Back soon. Meanwhile – a few thoughts on the trainwreck that is council homelessness “help”…

      • Something I never thought of, probably is rife. There can’t be enough sales reps. to warrant all those motel chains. So there’s the answer, quite a revelation, most of them must be crammed with Housing Benefit claimants in temporary accommodation, the rest of course are knocking shops.

        • There used to be a ‘hotel’ at the end of the street where I live called The Blue Dragon. It was opened in the 90s by someone who previously was a used car salesman, and therefore new to the hospitality business. At the time I was working for a company marketing the city as a tourist destination, and remember one day there being some comments being made as the hotel proprietor had contacted us asking whether it would be a good idea to offer hourly rates for his rooms!

          The hotel rapidly gained a reputation as being a bit of a dive, and was largely used by contractors. It had the reputation amongst contractors as being the place where no-one needed to approach working girls, as they’d always approach prospective clients in the hotel bar.

          The hotel is now closed, and has been demolished, and the site vacant, no doubt to be re-developed with yet more unaffordable apartments, or maybe yet more of the council’s preferred development, student accommodation.

          The Blue Dragon’s only real claim to fame is that it was used as a location in the file ‘Very Annie Mary’.

          But yes, it is worrying that yet again it is the private sector that stands to massively gain from poverty. It’s a bit like the prison system in the USA where huge profits are derived, not just from the actual ‘warehousing’ of inmates, but also the huge profits to be derived from the work they do.

          • Warehousing is the word. Meanwhile, politics seems utterly incapable of doing a single thing about it. It feels as though we’ll be going nowhere forever

          • *Warehousing* , there’s a word that makes my heart sink. The Jobcentre have somehow decided that warehouse work is something I’d be suited to and should be applying for, probably because there’s nothing else. But I don’t have a flt licence, and I don’t have any transport, and currently the only warehouse jobs I see are situated 15 – 20 miles away, often involving rotating 12 hour shifts, early starts, late finish, and at my age I struggle to even keep awake for 12 hours. FFS, someone shoot me.

          • Sorry to hear about your woes with the Jobecentre Trev, it would however seem that they’d be on a bit of a sticky wicket if they tried to sanction you for not applying for those jobs working in warehouses. It might get past the mandatory reconsideration, but I would have thought that a tribunal hearing would throw it out on reasonableness grounds, given that in your particular circumstances it would be unreasonable to expect you to do, as you don’t have the requisite pieces of paper, and you don’t have transport.

            I remember a friend’s response when she was advised by her JCP work coach that she should get a car, which was ‘Okay, I’ll just shit one out!’ .

            Of course, you could always do what the JCP say, but ensure that you include your date of birth on your CV, and should you be so unfortunate as to get an interview, you could also mention your various infirmities, or ask what company policy on union membership is? (Though that last point could fall flat if it’s a Tesco warehouse, as they are very enthusiastic about getting people to join USDAW – virtually a company union)

          • I usually include a short covering letter stating my age and mentioning the fact that I haven’t been in paid employment for “many years”, also put that I don’t have transport but “might” be able to get there in a couple of hours if the trains/buses are running on time. That seems to do the trick. It’s just a matter of receiving the confirmation emails as proof /evidence that I’ve ‘applied’, though lately I’m running out of even those jobs to apply for, in my own area there is nothing but part – time cleaning jobs. Some of them are appalling, I saw one today for an Office Assistant with spreadsheet knowledge /experience who would also be required to clean not only the office but also the canteen! It was zero-hours with the expectation of providing 16 – 20 hours per week.

          • All no doubt on minimum pay! You’ve probably noticed that over the years more and more is being demanded from workers for the crap pay being offered, and then being dissed as being lazy! Employers then think they’re really doing someone a favour by offering a job that not only pays crap wages, but doesn’t even offer enough guaranteed work to provide even the most basic of livings.

            And yet, should we be caught out expressing that we believe that we should, at the very least, be paid enough to live on, we are somehow cast as being ‘entitled’..

            Personally I think some enlightened progressive think tank should be offering you paid work Trev, as you seem to do an awful lot of research and post the results here – I for one am certainly thankful for your contributions and the links you provide.

    • It’s not something to be celebrated as the Tories maintain, rather it is a National disgrace and a National Emergency. I’m on my way to work at the foodbank today actually, and was there Tues. afternoon and I’ll be there again tomorrow. It’s all hands on deck at the moment and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight. I have to be careful not to do more than 15 hours though or my Benefits could be Sanctioned. Big Society my arse.

  1. Off topic but I work in a school in one of the most deprived areas of our town in SE England. Universal credit hit our area October last year. On Tuesday 1st day back after Easter holidays we had to provide breakfast for 2 of our pupils (primary age) as they hadn’t eaten any…..
    Actually I’m not sure when they had last eaten…..

    • Food poverty in this country is already a National Emergency and should be officially recognized as such, but of course that would be an admission of failure and the Tories will never admit that. I dread to think what the after effects of Brexit may be, but if it means food shortages due to import restrictions, or price increases due to unfavourable trade deals, along with potential job redundancies, then it is quite possible that food banks will run out of food and be unable to meet demands. What happens then? UN food aid distribution in the towns & cities of Britain? If so we will have hit a new low and a change of Government will at long last be inevitable.

  2. It’s a sad but true fact, that a large majority of working people in this country still basically support the so-called ‘welfare reforms.’ How the Tories managed to sell them the austerity agenda, and the virtual destruction of social security in this country, will be the subject of amazement in future years. Even Mrs.Thatcher at her ruthless best, could not have dreamed of the extent of these cuts. Or the sheer misery inflicted on disabled people. The Tories have changed the actual words people use. No longer the positive ‘social security’, but the negative-sounding ‘welfare’. Even disability now comes with a certain official suspicion behind it. It’s like something out of Orwell’s 1984, only in this case it’s real.

    • Yep. Many still feel that people could sort themselves out if they really tried. I doubt I could triumph over some of this shit myself tho

      • We hear people who claim this kind of crap all the time, people who will act all offended if someone dares to challenge or call them out for this kind of shit. I still think that many working people are still living in a lala land, and are about to get a very nasty wake up call once UC is fully implemented – if it’s ever fully implemented, as it seems to be (somewhat slowly) dawning even on the more hard of thinking of the do-gooder class that UC isn’t ‘flawed’ as they usually like to frame it, but was specifically designed to be cruel and inhumane. I just don’t get how they can have such na├»vely flawed thinking when it comes to people like Smith, McVey, Freud and Patel, people who have proved that they are nasty to their cores, and people who should never have been allowed anywhere near government.

        For the large mass of working people who endorse things like welfare policy, they will wake up one morning and find that someone close to them, or maybe even themselves, is now caught in the Universal Credit lobster pot – of course then it’ll suddenly be grossly unfair that they are being treated in this way, but, do you know what? I bet these idiots will still claim that the policies are correct, ‘for other people’.

        • It will be interesting, if that’s the word, to see where views are when people on working tax credits are moved to UC.

          • I think I wrote the last paragraph with some of those people in mind. Exceptionalism seems to be a bit of a national disease!

    • Your comment about Thatcher made me cast my mind back to those times when the Tories policies made the unemployment rate soar to over 3 million. There was none of this ‘scrounger’ rhetoric, and whilst people were a bit scathing of those who took the piss, in general there was no real stigma about being unemployed, it was just a fact of life that at some point people would experience some unemployment. Indeed, there were numerous articles in the press on how to make the best of it whilst on the dole, and it was even recognised that unemployed people were entitled to enjoy themselves, and many places for the first time started to offer consessional prices to the unemployed.

      I was a keen motorcyclist at the time, and a number of the national motorcycle magazines had projects that aimed to show how to get a cheap motorcycle on the road at a price that could be afforded when UB40’d.

      The notion of being able to run a vehicle, any vehicle whilst being a claimant now is almost inconceivable. That it was not just possible, but generally feasible to, not just run a motorbike on the dole, but actually purchase and get ready for the road all those years ago, says a lot about where we are now. .

      Nasty as Thatcher was, she was positively humanitarian compared to the feeble excuses for human beings we now have ruling over us. All through Thatcher’s reign the dole remained just that. It wasn’t until 1996 that things radially changed and we started to get the slightly Orwellian Jobseeker’s Allowance that insisted we take ‘at least two steps a week’ towards getting a job. Robustly opposed by some of us at the time, it now seems, compared to the punishment that is Universal Credit, to be very humane indeed.

      If things are going to change, then it has to come from people like us. I noted that in the blog ‘The Poor Side of Life’ that the writer notes that a lot of people don’t like to advertise the fact that they are unemployed and a claimant, and I can understand that. But, how about taking another stance, and rather than accepting our subservient status we instead start to see ourselves as full human beings with the same rights as everyone else? Why aren’t we picketing Jobcentres and WCA assessment centres, and why aren’t we coordinating a joint media campaign challenging the rather nasty suggestion that, as poor people, single parents, (more usually using the ‘single mothers’ trope) disabled or sick people and unemployed people we are sub-human undeserving of even respect, let alone the satisfaction of our fundamental needs?

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